|“||You may fire when ready.||„|
|~ Grand Moff Tarkin ordering the firing of the Death Star's superlaser at the Battle of Scarif.|
|“||You would prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system! I grow tired of asking this so it will be the last time: Where is the rebel base?'||„|
|~ Grand Moff Tarkin's interrogation with Princess Leia.|
|“||Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.||„|
|~ Grand Moff Tarkin answering to one of his commanders, minutes before the Death Star is destroyed.|
Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, also known as Governor Tarkin, is a major antagonist in the Star Wars franchise. He is the secondary antagonist of the first film in the original trilogy A New Hope, a major antagonist of the prequel series Star Wars: Rebels and the tertiary antagonist of the 2016 movie Rogue One .
He is an Imperial governor and in charge of the Imperial military battle station known as the Death Star. He acts as Darth Vader's superior. After Princess Leia has been captured by the Empire and has been brought onto the Death Star, Tarkin manages to convince her to tell him the location of the rebel base, threatening Leia's home planet Alderaan. However, after finding out the base location Tarkin activates the Death Star nonetheless, destroying Alderaan and killing billions. He then has the Death Star take course on Yavin 4 where he intends to wipe out the rebels once and for all. However, before he can reach his goal the Death Star is blown up by rebel fighters, with Tarkin being one of the casualties.
Tarkin was portrayed by the late Peter Cushing in A New Hope. In Revenge of the Sith he was portrayed by Wayne Pygram. In Rogue One Guy Henry portrayed Tarkin, with CGI being used to superimpose Cushing's face over Henry.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Tarkin first met Darth Vader as his past self Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. After Skywalker's transformation into Darth Vader, Tarkin suspected Skywalker had become Vader, but had never been able to confirm that.
Revenge of the Sith
He makes a brief cameo in the last movie of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith at the end of the movie as he, along with Vader and Emperor Palpatine supervise the construction of the Death Star on board of an Imperial Star Destroyer.
Star Wars Rebels
Some years later during the era of the Empire, Tarkin became Grand Moff and traveled to the planet Lothal to find a way to hunt the rebels of the planet.
After Imperial Director Orson Krennic has succeeded in building the Death Star, Tarkin arrived on the station to have its powers demonstrated to him. Nearing the planet Jedha, Krennic offers to use the Death Star to destroy the entire planet. However, Tarkin tells him to merely use a low-powered blast on the planet's capital Jedha City. After the Death Star used a single ignition blast to annihilate the capital and the nearby area, an impressed Tarkin reveals to Krennic that he will be taking command of the station as of now, using the security breach under Krennic's command as a pretext to remove Krennic from his position. He also tells Krennic to spread the story that Jedha City was destroyed in a mining accident, as he does not want the Senate to find out about the Death Star.
When the Imperial base on Scarif (where all information on the Death Star is stored) is attacked by rebels, Tarkin orders the jump to hyperspace, just as Rebel maverick Jyn Erso (the protagonist of the film) managed to retrieve the plans and send them to the nearby Rebel fleet before confronting Krennic. Arriving in the moment of the Rebels' moment of triumph, Tarkin activates the Death Star to destroy the Imperial base on Scarif in order to prevent any information leak, which ultimately kills all the remaining Rebels and Imperial forces (including Jyn and Krennic). Despite having destroyed the base, Tarkin is furious to hear that the plans have fallen to Rebel hands thanks to Jyn's efforts.
A New Hope
In the first officially launched movie of the Star Wars franchise (re-released as Episode IV: A New Hope), Grand Moff Tarkin makes a first appearance with Darth Vader, at a meeting of the joint chiefs where General Tagge and Admiral Motti were arguing over the theft of the plans by the Rebellion. Tarkin announced to the joint chiefs that Emperor Palpatine had just dissolved the Senate and left the power to all regional governors of the systems, and that fear of the Death Star would keep the population in line.
When Vader warned the chiefs about the station's power being insignificant compared to the Force, Motti mocked Vader for his scorer’s ways. Vader responded by using the Force to choke Motti. Seeing that Vader fully intended to kill Motti, Tarkin ordered Vader to let him go, Vader did as he wished. Tarkin put an end to the pointless bickering, saying that Lord Vader would retrieve the plans and that the Death Star would crush the rebellion.
Tarkin and Lord Vader held Princess Leia Organa captive on board the Death Star. They attempted to interrogate her to reveal the location of the Rebel Base. After Leia told him the base was on the planet of Dantooine, Tarkin decides to destroy the princess's home planet Alderaan anyway, and then deal with her "rebel friends" later. This makes him cross the Moral Event Horizon like he's driving a spaceship into it.
After the truth is revealed that the rebel base was not at Dantooine, Tarkin planned to have Leia Organa killed. However, after the Millennium Falcon had landed on one of the Death Star bays, Vader convinced Tarkin to wait as he feels the presence of his old master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Tarkin reassures him that the Jedi are extinct, despite Vader informing that Obi-Wan and many other Jedi survived Order 66. Tarkin demands that Obi-Wan can't be allowed to escape, to which Vader assures him that Obi-Wan isn't planning to escape and that he must face him alone.
After Princess Leia is rescued by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo while Obi-Wan sacrifices himself to let them escape, Tarkin has the Death Star follow the Millennium Falcon thanks to a signal beacon planted on the Millennium Falcon before they escaped. They go to the Yavin system, where he plots with Vader the destruction of the Rebel base on Yavin IV once in range.
During the Battle of Yavin, Chief Bast learned from his subordinates that they analyzed the attack and found there could be a danger. Bast suggested Tarkin evacuate but Tarkin refuses, confident that the Death Star will annihilate the Rebel base with success. However, Luke uses the Force to guide his proton torpedoes to the exhaust port in order to destroy the Death Star, killing Tarkin and all remaining Imperial personnel on board while Vader escapes in his space pod.
After his death Tarkin became reviled in the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic for his destruction of Alderaan. However the First Order held Tarkin in high esteem, putting his last name on the armband insignia for the rank of Major.
Tarkin was an extremely manipulative, relentless, calculating, intense and ruthless man and was known for his sharp memory. He never forgot a favor or a slight and he even was capable of recalling people from meetings that took place over a decade before, including he had only met them once.
For example, when Cienna Ree greeted him in the Death Star, he was easily able to recognize her from the encounter he had with her when she was a child.
- Tarkin can be regarded as the second main antagonist of A New Hope (alongside Vader himself), as Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious (the true villain of the entire saga) did not make his first appearance until "The Empire Strikes Back", and also Peter Cushing, who played the character got high billing behind Mark Hamill (Luke), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia).
- Tarkin is the very first Star Wars villain to be a Complete Monster.
- Tarkin bears a striking resemblance to Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame: They both have high cheekbones, a similar hairstyle, gray hair, and a face as long and thin as their noses. Plus both of them are complete monsters who are oppressive (Frollo against gypsies and Tarkin against those of Alderaan). The only difference is that Frollo is a Big Bad, while Tarkin is a subordinate of Vader.
- Tarkin does not appear in the LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales retelling of A New Hope.
- Tarkin is likely the main antagonist of the Star Wars Rebels series since he has appeared on the show more than any other villains.
- The scene where Tarkin interrogates Princess Leia for the whereabouts of the rebel base was later parodied in the Pixar film Toy Story when Sid Phillips burns Woody's head.
- Despite the fact that Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi are Tarkin's enemies, and Luke is the one who kills him, they have never had any actual interactions.
- Despite his respect for Palpatine, Tarkin does not seem to care about Palpatine's fate and is more eager to gain the Empire for himself than to serve Palpatine.
- Tarkin's evil is regarded with close respect to Palpatine, and despite far smaller screentime, his destruction of Alderaan is regarded as one of the worst actions of the saga.
- In Revenge of the Sith Lucas briefly considered using CGI and existing footage of Cushing to recreate Tarkin before deciding the footage wasn't good enough nor was the technology quite advanced enough yet. He instead cast a heavily made up Wayne Pygram as Tarkin due to Pygram's strong resemblance to Cushing. In 2016 director Gareth Edwards felt the technology had advanced far enough to use CGI to superimpose Cushing's face over Tarkin actor Guy Henry's face in the film Rogue One. Cushing's family was heavily involved in the recreation of CGI Tarkin and provided input to Rogue One producers.
- Tarkin is one of the few Star Wars antagonists to have killed main characters (He is responsible for the death of Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor). Interesting thing, there is not a Sith nor a Force handler.